Training Camp

Redskins Press Conferences: Jay Gruden 7-23-2014

Redskins Press Conferences: Jay Gruden 7-23-2014

The Washington Redskins arrived in Richmond Virginia this week and will begin open training camp practice in front of the public tomorrow. Today, new head coach Jay Gruden had the first official press conference of the 2014 season. Gruden spoke to the media at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center.

Who will not be available tomorrow:

“Jason Hatcher, Leonard Hankerson, Stephen Bowen and Mo [Maurice] Hurt.”

Does he expect defensive end Jason Hatcher to play at some point during camp:

“I do. He’s being monitored closely by Larry [Hess], our trainer, and as soon as they see fit, he’ll be ready to go. But we want to make sure he’s obviously ready to go.”

On offensive lineman Maurice Hurt:

“He came in a little bit out of shape. We’ll just go from there and make sure we monitor his condition moving forward.”

On starting camp:

“We’re fired up. Everybody showed up on time. Everybody’s eager, ready to roll. We had a great offseason program, like I said. This is the beginning of something special, we hope. These guys are excited, like I said. The coaches are excited. I think the city is excited. Now it’s just a matter of putting the work in and getting better every day. That’s the motto.”

Does he expect defensive end Stephen Bowen and wide receiver Leonard Hankerson to be available during camp:

“I never like to try to make predictions on when guys are going to come back. That’s totally up to Larry and the training staff and the doctors and the player. Obviously we have high hopes. They’ve been working very hard. They’re making all their schedule appointments. They all want to be on the field as soon as possible, but I’m going to leave that up to Larry and their progress will speak for itself. We don’t want to rush anybody back from an injury, obviously. One-hundred percent is a good number for us. We’re waiting for them to get to that.”

On if it is fair to say Hatcher is in a different category than Bowen and Hankerson:

“Yeah, it probably is. I think he’ll be ready quicker than the others.”

On where quarterback Robert Griffin III is right now:

“Well, from a health standpoint, we feel good about where he is there. Obviously he’s in great shape. He ran excellent today. Physical conditioning, not an issue. Mental conditioning, we feel excellent. [Offensive Coordinator] Sean [McVay] has done an excellent job with him. Above the neck plays, he’s doing a great job with the command of the game, the huddle, his progressions in the passing game. His audibles in the run game have been excellent. And then we’ve just got to continue to build. He’s in his third year and he’s still going to make mistakes here and there, but the key for them is to learn from his mistakes and not make the same mistakes over and over and just continue to get better every day, and he’s the type of guy that will.”

Would he agree Griffin III is the best quarterback on the roster:

“I would agree with that, yes. Robert is the quarterback, that’s for sure. Hands down.”

How he wants to define and characterize his practices:

“Every coach wants to have great energy and great tempo, and that’s the big thing. We want to get in and out of the huddle. We want to have great tempo and try to simulate game fashion as best we can. It’s going to be hot. Practices, sometimes they roll into period after period after period. They can be mundane, but it’s important for us as coaches to motivate and keep the tempo moving at a quick pace and make sure we’re learning and coaching and the players are getting needed work – running to the football, pursuit, discipline. All that coachspeak that you hear, it’s what training camp is all about. Fundamentals of football need to be taught every play, every day. The tempo needs to be taught and worked on. The pursuit angles, the pursuit drills need to be practiced and worked on, and we strive for perfection.”

On crafting his first training camp:

“I try to use input from everybody. Coach [Jim] Haslett, obviously Coach [Ben] Kotwica, Sean McVay, [Director of Football Operations] Paul Kelly, we’ve all been at different systems and different programs and we’ve seen how different teams do them. Some have been successful, but we try to do what’s best for our team and for this place. We thought practicing in the morning was the best option for us. Just walking out there today, it was hot, so I’m kind of glad we’re going in the morning. I was sweating. This jacket was a bad choice. I used everybody’s input on that as I do in coming up with game plans, and every decision I make will have input. Obviously I’ll have the final say, but I really expect that from the coaches.”

On how his training camp will differ from his predecessors:

“I don’t know. I haven’t been to every coach’s training camp, so we’ll see. The big thing is we have a schedule drawn out. Now, how much we stick to that schedule will be determined on how we do. We might have to take a period out or add a period, a live tackling period or something along the way and change it up. I don’t think there’s any special drill in football I’m going to do that nobody’s ever done before. I hope not. It’ll be football.”

How does Griffin III feel more prepared this year:

“He knows the tempo. He knows what has to go into the making of a great quarterback. He’s got a long way to go. He understands that. The preparation – both physical and mental preparation – he’s got a great understanding and a great feel for that already as a young guy and the maturation process that he has to have. The ability to make mistakes, learn from mistakes, take criticism – it makes you a better person and a stronger man, and he’s realizing that and he’s just going to continue to get better. He’s got all the talent in the world, there’s no question about it, so we’ve just got to get it out of him each and every day. He’s going to come to work and try to be a great player.”

On cornerbacks Richard Crawford and Tracy Porter:

“They’re good. They’re ready to roll.”

Is there a different feeling prior to the start of camp than during the rest of the offseason:

“Anticipation, you’re excited about the season. You’re nervous, you’ve got butterflies walking out there every day. You want to make sure everything is right and you want to make sure you’re giving the players everything you need to succeed. With this great facility that we have, we feel like off-the-field they have everything they need. From the hotel to here, the training facility, we have everything they need to succeed. Now, as far as the practice schedule, our walkthroughs, how we schedule those, we’re hoping to give them an opportunity to continue to speak our language, play our offense, play our defense, be taught in special teams and continue to coach and get them ready for the first game in Houston.”

On if he is past the point of reflecting on what he has already done:

“I try to move forward every day. I don’t think about yesterday. I’m thinking about tomorrow and what we can do to coach our guys up and get them ready for Houston.”

Does he feels he completed his preparation for training camp:

“The schedule’s all done, man, so I feel good about it. That’s the stressful part of it to make sure everything is on paper so the players know where they’re going, what time the meetings are and everything is in order, and we feel like we’ve done that. Paul Kelly does a great job as Director of Football Operations and helping with that, and the other coaches. So now it’s a matter of just getting these guys up in the morning, coming to our meetings, coming to practice, coaching them up, making sure they’re on time and learning. It’s going to be a great process. Like I said, a great facility, great hotel. This is a great place to learn. We’ve got fans coming out here to watch them. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be fired up to come to work and be excited for the start of the season.”

On if he looks at previous coaches who have struggled:

“You try to learn from history, coaches’ past mistakes, not only here but every other franchise in the NFL. And you learn as a coach. We’ll learn from what we did in Cincinnati, what we did right, what I think we did wrong, how we ended the season, how poorly we finished and what we can do to rectify that. So you try to take it all for a grain of salt, but ultimately it’s your team and your stamp and you have to do it your way and feel good about it and confident in your abilities in leading and coaching and not worry about the second guessing. It’s going to come eventually. We’re going to get second guessed all the time, but we have to feel confident the way we’re doing things is the right way and the best way for them to succeed on Sunday’s. Ultimately that’s all we can ask.”

On Griffin III’s happiness this offseason:

“Happiness comes with wins. Nobody’s going to be happy if we’re 2-14. Our whole goal is to make sure we make him as comfortable as possible with this system and that when he’s out there on Sundays, he’s comfortable and feels good about the direction we’re going offensively. And if we can make him feel comfortable and put him in a comfort zone and a place where he can succeed, then I feel like we’ll have a much better chance with this franchise to be successful. Our relationship is what it is. My relationship with all the players, hopefully, is a good one and a strong one, one that I’m the coach [and] they’re the player. Moving forward, I’ve got their back and we are going to do everything we can to help them, like I said.”

What would be a successful first training camp:

“I want to make sure we make the right decisions on players, No. 1. We have to make sure we get a good look at all the young guys, all the free agents, all the undrafted free agents, the draft picks, the veteran free agents, and make sure when we make our final cut-down we make the right choices and hopefully these players will make it very difficult on us in making those decisions. When you play four preseason games and you scrimmage against the New England Patriots, hopefully we’ll get enough reps where we do make the right decision because nothing is worse as a coach than when you let somebody go and they go on and kick you’re a** later on. We want to make sure we get these guys the reps necessary and keep who we think are the best 53 and make the right decisions.”

What is the biggest challenge for him preparing for this camp:

“Like I said, just the schedules, all that stuff. It has not been hard. You know, Bruce [Allen] has done an excellent job getting the right players in here – the coaching staff, the personnel department – of getting the right 90 guys here to Richmond. From there, now it’s about coaching. And I’ve got a great staff and I’ve mentioned 100 times before that the best thing I’ve done so far is hire a good staff. They’ve done a great job getting their players ready to get to this point. Now it’s just moving forward, playing ball, coaching ball and making the decisions on the field personnel-wise and getting these guys upbeat and ready to go for Houston and a grind of the season. It’s a 16-game season, obviously, and that’s a grind, and in order to go through that at a successful clip, we have to have the right people in here and have got to make sure we keep the right people. I know from a coaching staff standpoint, from training staff, from a personnel staff point, from a GM all the way to the top to Mr. Snyder, I feel good about where we are. Now we have just got to find the right 53 guys. It’s not going to be easy because we feel like we have a very good, competitive group in this building.”

Do players from last year have chips on their shoulders this year:

“I hope so. Any time you lose the last one – whether you go 2-14 or we were 11-5 in Cincy and lost the last one – you should have a chip on your shoulder. You should want to get back on the saddle and compete. I think we have the type of guys here that all want to compete, whether they are coming from another team – we don’t have anybody coming from Seattle so everybody in this locker room should have a chip on their shoulder and should be eager to get back on the field and excited to play. Football is a great game, it’s a privilege to play this game and I know they all love it and they want to do well. They are excited. We have worked extremely hard with the strength and conditioning coaches in the offseason program and you see them out there today running. They are all in good shape. Moving forward I feel good about where we are. Now it’s just a matter of getting them out there and playing.”

On practicing with the New England Patriots:

“It’s a great changeup. These guys, after about five or six days of hitting each other, they get tired of looking at each other and smelling each other’s breath, so to be able to play against New England and Coach [Bill] Belichick, his team and Tom Brady and the rest of that team – Darrelle Revis will be here – it’s going to be a great test for us. The young guys are competing against other players and sometimes you have us against us, they have some brotherly love but there won’t be any brotherly love that week. Everybody is going to be competing for roster spots and it will be a great opportunity and just another chance for us to evaluate our players. That’s what it’s all about. We are not going to try to out-trick the New England Patriots when they are here. We are going to try to line up, put our chinstraps on, our mouthpieces in and see where we are as a football team.”

On molding Griffin III’s mentality:

“It’s something has to be done with every quarterback in the NFL. He’s no exception. The ones that have played for 15 and 20 years, some of the great ones of all-time, they are working on their mental game every day. That’s just part of the position. When you sign up to play quarterback in the NFL, it’s a grind mentally as well as physically. That’s never going to change from his third year to his 10thyear to his 15th year. He’s got to challenge himself mentally every day in the offseason because things change and he has to be up to date with what is going on defensively.”

On what Griffin III has been working on:

“Mentally, we’ve got all our passing game, his footwork, his fundamentals. I could sit here for 35 or 40 minutes and talk about what he needs to work on and I’ll say the same thing about what Tom Brady needs to work on. You know what I mean? That’s just the position and every position on the field, in regards to training both mentally and physically, and that’s not going to change. As long as you are an active football player, somebody is after your job. You’re getting older and you have to maintain your level of competitiveness and move on.”

On how camp will benefit Griffin III:

“Repetition. Reps, reps, reps. You can never have too many reps. We can run the same play 10 times and we might get 10 different defenses. The more you see that play against different defenses, the more you see the blitzes that he has to handle from a quarterback position, step it up in the pocket, his fundamentals, his footwork… He just needs to continue to get reps. I thought it’s very difficult to miss an entire training camp and a preseason and come in Week 1 and say, ‘Here’s the ball. Go play’ It’s very difficult, so all quarterbacks need the reps. All quarterbacks want the reps. They desire the chance to compete not only on Sunday but every day during the week and Robert is an ultimate competitor. He wants to compete every day, as do the rest of these guys. The big thing is not to make it so much about Robert but make it about the Redskins. But from Robert’s standpoint, he just needs to keep getting the reps.”

What are his expectations for having the fans at practice and what he’s heard about the fans:

“Everything’s been positive. They are all excited for the season to start. It’s a brand new season. There’s 32 teams and everybody has the same expectation and the same goals. We just put last year behind us. We aren’t going to talk about that anymore. We are just going to move forward and try to get some guys in here that love to play and want to play. They are going to work hard and be great. The fans can be proud when they come to the stadium and they know they are going to get a great effort from their players. I think we have a group of guys that will do that. With great effort comes wins and that’s what we are all about.”

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